Refinance In Foreclosure

By: Tristan Hunt

People across America are increasingly being faced with a homeowner's worst nightmare: Foreclosure. The possibility of losing your home to the bank is very real, and it's very normal to be scared and confused as the process moves along. What's important is to keep a cool head, don't panic, and evaluate your options as early in the process as possible. Many people who are approaching or are currently in a foreclosure do not realize that they may be qualified to refinance while in foreclosure and save their home, mainly because by this point in the process they have experienced rejection and denial by their own lender and often several others. But if you have Equity in your home, you can refinance in foreclosure and get back on track to improving your credit.

Refinancing in foreclosure is not like normal refinancing. When you apply for a regular, or conventional mortgage refinance, the most important thing a lender looks at when deciding whether or not to approve the loan is your credit and mortgage payment history. If you have not been more than 90 days late or behind on your mortgage payments, and your FICO credit score is above 500, conventional lenders will look at your refinance application and consider it. They may not approve it, but you'll at least get looked at. When you go beyond 90 days late on your mortgage payments, no conventional lender will review your application, no matter how much money you make or how much better your situation is now than when you fell behind. Once you are considered 120 days late or behind on the mortgage, or your credit score falls below 500, the conventional lending industry simply cannot take the risks of lending to you anymore. If you've been rejected for a loan during the foreclosure process, even before the notice of default was recorded, it is usually because you are over 90 to 120 days late or your credit score is under 500, or both.

You are now in a special situation, and banks don't like "special". They just aren't set up for "outside the box" financing, no matter how much sense it makes, so their response is to either deny your application, or in the case of the lender who holds the mortgage on your home which has fallen behind, they do the only thing they can, foreclose on the home and force its sale at auction to the highest bidder.

In order to handle special situations like this, you need a lender who specializes in refinancing foreclosures. There are only a few out there, but you'll know one when you find one, because the first question they will ask you is "If you had to sell your home quickly, how much would it sell for?", followed quickly by "And how much do you owe on your first mortgage". This is because they are trying to establish how much Equity you have in the property. Equity for these purposes can be calculated easily:

A)Just subtract the Balance of your first mortgage from the Value of your home.
B)Take that Number and divide it by your property Value (there's that word again),
C)Multiply by 100 and you've got your gross Equity percentage.

Because your credit and mortgage history cannot be considered for the purpose of qualifying you for a foreclosure loan, foreclosure refinancing is all about Equity. Lenders specializing in foreclosure refinancing will routinely request that you order an appraisal and an additional appraisal review performed by a realtor, commonly referred to as a BPO or Broker Price Opinion.

Here's a general guideline: If you have 35% or more Equity in your property, and your property is Valued at $200,000 or more, you are probably qualified for a foreclosure refinance, and you can save your home from the auction block if you act quickly. Again, this is a rule of thumb. Sometimes, you may be able to get away with having a little bit less Equity, or a little bit less Value, and in some states you will need much more Equity and a much higher Value to qualify for a refinance in a foreclosure scenario.

If you have two mortgages, a first and second, you still may be eligible for a foreclosure refinance if you meet one or more of the following conditions:
1. The Balances of your 1st and 2nd mortgages added together amounts to less than 70% of the Value of your home.
2. Your 2nd mortgage can be "subordinated", or kept in place while you refinance the 1st mortgage.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of acting as quickly as possible to save your home through a foreclosure refinance. The foreclosure clock starts ticking from the day on which you receive a notice of default or on which you become 120 days past due on your mortgage payments, and it can move very quickly. While most foreclosures don't get to the stage of a property auction, sherrif's sale or trustee sale in which you will lose your home until about 120 days from the recording of the NOD ( Notice Of Default ), in many states this can happen much more quickly, as fast as 60 days. While you delay, your mortgage company's payoff balance, the mount required to cure the default and prevent foreclosure, will increase as legal fees and interest pile up, eating away at your Equity and robbing you of the ability to refinance out of the foreclosure. It's easy to feel lost, almost paralyzed by the shock and fear of losing your home, but if you are serious about saving your home from foreclosure, get on the phone and find a foreclosure refinancing specialist as quickly as possible.

Don't forget, your first priority is to save your home, and a foreclosure refinance is considered a short term loan, usually with a fixed rate for 2 or 3 years. This gives you enough time to get your credit back together and refinance at the end of the fixed period into a much lower payment. Because you have shown your current lender, as well as the credit reporting agencies and by association every other lender in the country that you could not make the mortgage payments in accordance with the terms of the loan which is in foreclosure, it's understandable that the lender providing the foreclosure refinance is taking a substantial risk in lending you the money to prevent the foreclosure, and the financing will not be at a very low rate. However, in most cases, the foreclosure refinance loan's payments are Interest Only, and will be lower than the payments on most forbearance, or payment agreements, which your lender may have proposed or enrolled you in prior to filing for foreclosure. And if you consolidate high interest debts like credit cards and personal loans, payoff judgments, and clear away liens, you can potentially free up a lot of cash flow from your monthly budget and begin improving your credit score with a clean slate.

Don't waste time talking to lenders and brokers who don't know the foreclosure refinance process inside out, there are simply too many out there who will just waste your time and money trying to learn how to get your foreclosure refinanced while you slide closer and closer to a sale date and the real possibility of losing your home. On the other hand, the right lender can help you lay out other options to save the equity in your home even if you don't qualify for a foreclosure refinance. Find a special lender for your special situation, and you will have a fighting chance of refinancing in foreclosure and saving your home.

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